Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Friday that she “would not put clemency on the table” for NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
“I think Snowden has exacted quite a bit of damage and did it in a way that violated the law,” Napolitano said in an interview airing on "Meet the Press" this Sunday.
Asked if the administration should consider a deal that would allow Snowden to avoid jail time in return for unreleased documents, Napolitano said she couldn't judge without knowing what information the former defense contractor still had.
“But from where I sit today, I would not put clemency on the table at all,” she said.
The New York Times and another former Obama administration official are among the voices calling for Snowden to be given a break.
On Thursday, Anne-Marie Slaughter, the former State Department director of policy planning, tweeted that she agreed with an editorial in the Times that argued Snowden was “clearly justified in believing that the only way to blow the whistle on this kind of intelligence-gathering was to expose it to the public and let the resulting furor do the work his superiors would not.”
“Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight,” the editorial says. “He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service.”
Last month, Richard Ledgett, who heads an National Security Agency task force handling unauthorized disclosures, suggested in a “60 Minutes” interview that the U.S. should consider a deal offering Snowden amnesty in exchange for returning additional documents outlining the government's top-secret surveillance programs.
“My personal view is, yes, it’s worth having a conversation about,” Ledgett said. “I would need assurances that the remainder of the data could be secured, and my bar for those assurances would be very high. It would be more than just an assertion on his part.”
But White House press secretary Jay Carney dismissed the suggestion, saying that the administration's position on Snowden's need to return home to face justice had not changed “at all.”
“Mr. Snowden has been accused of leaking classified information and he faces felony charges here in the United States,” Carney said.
President Obama is spending his winter vacation reviewing a report commissioned by the White House that recommends dozens of steps the administration could take to increase transparency or impose limits on the nation’s intelligence programs.
Among the recommendations are ending the NSA’s collection of Americans’ phone records, additional scrutiny when the decision is made to monitor foreign leaders, and new safeguards requiring the administration to obtain judicial approval before reviewing a citizen’s financial or phone records.
Obama is expected to announce his decision on the recommendations later this month.